UNHCR lauds approval of House bill on protection of internally-displaced persons
MANILA, Philippines — The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) lauded the approval of a measure that seeks to protect, uphold, and fulfill the rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the House of Representatives last August 2.
The UNHCR expressed its hope that the Senate will also approve the pending measures as it noted that the Philippines is the first country in Southeast Asia to have a legal framework for IDPs’ protection once the bill gets enacted into law.
“We hope that the Senate will also champion the pending measures so that the bill can be passed into law. This is integral to sustaining the momentum of the efforts to provide durable solutions to the recurring and cyclical crisis of internal displacement,” said UNHCR Philippines National Office head Maria Ermina Valdeavilla-Gallardo in a statement issued on Sunday.
House Bill No. 8269 was passed by the lower chamber with 212 lawmakers voting in the affirmative and none voting in the negative or abstaining.
The bill seeks to cater to individuals that are internally displaced due to armed conflict, violence, and natural hazards in the country and ensures that the rights of IDPs, such as the freedom of movement, provision, and access to basic necessities would be protected and upheld during, and after their displacement.
It likewise “foresees that the primary duty and responsibility to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to IDPs lie within the State, in close collaboration with local government authorities.”
Under the measure, the Department of Social Welfare and Development, the Department of Health, local government hospitals, local government units, and law enforcement agencies are mandated to provide immediate relief and humanitarian assistance to IDPs, families, and communities.